Parenting has suddenly become exponentially more challenging. Overnight, we have had to fill all the roles for our kids–teachers, friends, extended family, the friendly barista at the coffee shop, etc–all while dealing with the emotional fallout (for the kiddos and for ourselves). Phew. Let’s take a minute to acknowledge: this is hard.
Way back in the old days, like a month ago, nature was a huge part of my parenting. In a world that bombards us with screens, superheros, and shopping, I have always struggled to push the focus back onto the outdoors. Ideally, I do this by actually being outdoors: one of the beautiful things about little kids is that a 300 foot trail, or a pullout by the bay, can offer an hour of adventure and exploration.
But now most parks and open spaces are closed. We still get out in the yard, but sometimes even that isn’t possible – like when mama has work from home. One resource that I discovered keeps my little one entertained (and my outdoorsy heart happy) has been nature-based coloring pages; I send her to wait by the printer, and she’s delighted when a new one pops out. If I space them out properly, the print-and-color cycle might keep her happy for 45 minutes, or more. This time is like gold, people.
Here are some links to a few different pages that I liked; I’m sure you can find a lot more on your own. And if you have no kids, you might enjoy them anyway, to de-stress and take your mind on a little nature vacation.
- 20 pages of National Parks, here from education.com. You have to create an account, but it’s fast and free (scroll to the bottom of the page to download all at once).
- This is a really great one, here. In addition to coloring a cactus wren or a desert landscape, you can do an artcic brine maze or an ant head matching game! And on and on. Feather anatomy, comparing arm bones in people and bats, a biome matching game… SO FUN, for joyful nerds of all sizes! From Arizona State University’s “Ask A Biologist” program.
- Pollinators of Alaska coloring book, here, from Glacier Bay National Park.
- California rare animals coloring book, here, from California State Parks.
- A variety of National Park scenes, here, from USA Printables (the interface is a little clunky, but the selection is good)
- John Muir Laws’ website is an absolute wealth of free drawing instructions – adults and older kids might want to check out the “how to draw birds,” “how to draw mammals,” and “how to draw plants” pages; (be sure to check out the sidebars on the right for tons of related videos, tutorials, and other links!). There are a lot of resources for teachers too–which we all are at the moment. However, for my little one I just selected some of the non-colored images and printed those for her to color in (for example, this one from the “how to draw a bewicks wren” tutorial, or this one from the “simplifying bird plumage” tutorial).
- Wildflowers of the Colorado Mountain tops, here, by the US Forest Service, is nice because it includes some extra sciency detail if you want it.
- A selection of animals, plants, culture, and history, here, from Texas Parks and Wildlife.
- Coloring and games from New Jersey parks, here – bark identification! Word search! word scramble!
- How cool is this Color Our Collections project, with free, colorable images from all sorts of museums?? There are all sorts of subject, but most are nature/science/history related.
- Still need more? Here are some free single coloring pages, sorted by category – birds, mammals, reptiles, molluscs, etc. Go to town!
What kind of nature art are you all doing while in quarantine? I’d love to hear about it!